Tuesday, May 12, 2015

(Possibly) Homesick in the German Countryside

Yesterday we took the train to what seems like Neverland. Everything around me is so beautiful and gorgeous that I can't help but continually smile. This place is so peaceful and fresh: the food, the air, the water, and a new perspective I'm developing. I could even say that this may be the most beautiful place I've ever been, but I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. That all being said, I truly wish I could share this with loved ones back home, hence the "homesick" in the title. I'm certainly not wishing I was at home because I almost don't want to leave here, however I wish I could pick up everyone I care about and bring them here to experience this amazing place together. It's so relaxing that I feel asleep on my computer last night when I tried to write this blog post. The pure air, chirping crickets, and luxurious bed all contributed to my (nearly) full night's sleep. The only negative thus far is that I received a lovely little sunburn yesterday, thanks to the higher elevation and my ginger genes. Well, one could say that my grueling stomach ache was a negative, but eating that entire Apfelstrudel in one minute flat was more than worth it. (See picture below)

Back-tracking a little bit, the group and I went on a breath-taking hike yesterday led by no other than the amazing Hans! He lead us up into the mountains all the way to a summit, stopping along the way for two wonderful meals and to explain what everything (plants, animals, history, geography, statistics, elevation levels, etc.) was. I can definitely say that Hans is one of the most intelligent people I've ever met, he has so much knowledge to share and the others and I did our best to soak it all in yesterday. He also explained a lot about the difference between work ethics and attitudes in the US and Germany and it really hit home for me.

In the US we have this seemingly obsession with productivity. Whether it's filling every hour of our days with something "productive" to do, or only having one week off of work a year, not including sick days. It's starting to seem to me that we Americans are creating more problems than we're solving. We're sacrificing our health for our jobs. I thought it was amazing to hear how much Germany cares about the work environment and mental health of its people. From what I can understand, Germans get much more time off of work, a hefty amount of maternity leave, and job assurance if they need to take more time off for personal reasons. Whereas in the US, most people would consider all of those things as unproductive or unnecessary. I apologize for the random tangent, but I've just been learning so much about myself over the past week and what I truly value. It sounds like a stretch for being on a trip, but I pretty confident that I'll come back as a difference person after this entire experience; for the better, I might add. Hans told us a quote in german and unfortunately I forgot exactly what it was, however it went something like this, "You truly become yourself when you travel." Needless to say, I'm excited to find out more about myself in the coming days.

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